The Bozburun Peninsula
The westerly shores of the Lycian Coast are among its least visited and all the finer for it. A sleepy coast road, completed over the last decade, has opened-up a hinterland of quiet bays and coastal villages which coexist harmoniously with a steady trickle of tourism. Long fingers of wooded headland jut out into the sea – with sweet smelling almond groves and swaying carob trees - enticing an array of birdlife and a beguiling sense of natural tranquillity.
Travel beyond the unforgiving urban sprawl of Marmaris and something quite different (and altogether better) emerges. The Bozburun or Daraçya Peninsula as it is known locally is protected by strict conservation laws which have kept dense forests, unbridled wildlife, ancient settlements and day-to-day rural lives intact.
Picturesque harbours with working fishing boats, village schools on sandy shorelines and home-grown lavender and thyme sold in bunches on the side streets are the order of the day. The landscape adopts a lusher hue as it nears the Aegean with a dense green canvas carpeting the hillsides all the way to the shore. This makes for ideal walking country in the cooler months (April, May, September and October) and the Peninsula is criss-crossed by ancient caravan routes, goat trails and roman roads which form the linear, recently created Carian Trail walking route. Bee hives line the paths and the carob honey is deliciously sweet and renowned for its cure-all properties.
Within this traditional sea faring community, traditional gulets are still handmade using skills passed down through the generations in both boatyards and back gardens. The whalebone skeleton of gulets under construction can be spotted at random in the smaller villages of Selimye and Sögüt as well as Bozburun’s impressive shipyard. Trees are laden with pomegranates, lemons and limes and each day is punctuated by the cry of the call to prayer.
Beaches and Beach Clubs
Beaches are plentiful and as you drive the coast road it’s possible to stop off and swim at a number of unspoilt coves which line the route. You may even spot natural sponges as you snorkel through the shores – the region is renowned for them. Phoenix beach, around 20 minutes south of Sögüt is one of our favourite spots and little-known outside the sailing fraternity. A rough path leads down to the beach (and requires robust footwear) but the unspoilt setting alone is worth the hike. There are beach platforms and loungers and a quietly chic lokanta with a daily changing menu.
There are just a handful of beach clubs in the area, the finest of which is the Dionysos Beach Club in Kumlubük. Here the sandy shore line is dotted with loungers and parasols with a drinks and towel service from the Club House which by nightfall turns into a seafood restaurant. There are watersports at the far end of the bay.
The sea is dotted with intriguing inlets and unpopulated islands that make great sailing conditions and several of the best restaurants are only accessible by boat, which can be arranged locally. The yachting fraternity enjoy the low-key atmosphere of the Peninsula’s harbours and its smattering of quality, seafood restaurants. It’s great fun to dine on bobbing pontoons by candlelight that twinkles in the moonlight.
There is an eclectic mix of visitors, predominantly discerning Turks visiting from Istanbul together with British and Europeans which creates an enjoyable, cosmopolitan ambience. The fare is predominantly seafood with a mixture of Ottoman and Mediterranean influences. Fish is generally paid for by the kilogram and diners can select their fish and see it cooked in front of them.